S&L – Issue 24

Salt and Light

Issue Twenty Four (January 2012)

Five Leaf Church Greening Initiative Newsletter

We believe that Creation Care is a core Christian responsibility”

The aim of this newsletter is to provide a supportive and informative link between individuals and groups that share a care and Christian responsibility for our environment. You are on this newsletter list because you have expressed an interest in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program or have communicated with the National Coordinator – Jessica Morthorpe.

Contents

l  Letter from the Editor

l  Church Greening News

l  Focus

l  Monthly Action Tip

l  Resources

l  Inspiring Quotes

l  Church Conservation Action Survey

l  Events

Letter from the Editor:

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first issue of Salt and Light for 2012. I hope you are all refreshed and feeling eager to work together this year for greener churches and a greener future.

2012 for the Five Leaf Eco-Awards is off to a roaring start with lots of interest growing in Western Australia around the program, which won’t be officially launched in the state until roughly early May with an award ceremony to the lucky churches who earn the honour of being the first in the state to achieve a Five Leaf Eco-Award.

Despite this success, we still don’t have a first award to be presented for the year – could your church be it?

Or has your church already achieved an award? Do you know what you need to do to progress to the next award in the program? If not, please chat to me.

For those who are church contacts for participating congregations, please note that I will be conducting phone calls in February to ask you about your experiences of the program so far and where we can improve. Please have a think about what feedback you would like to give.

Finally, in your prayers for those affected by the recent floods in NSW/QLD please pray particularly for the Ecofaith Community in Bellingen, one of our award winners, as the town recovers from the recent floods.

I hope you particularly enjoy this issue’s discussion around fire management and the outline of the Rainbow Covenant and Hymn adopted by the Australian Association for Mission Studies Conference.

Yours Sincerely,

Jessica

 

Social Media Update

The Five Leaf Eco-Awards have a Twitter account – If you are on Twitter, keep up with interesting developments in the world of church greening by following @fiveleafeco

Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on Jessica Morthorpe’s blog, Crown of Thorns, for the latest news and opinion on church greening in Australia http://fiveleaf-crownofthorns.blogspot.com/

Finally, if you are on Facebook, please make sure to ‘Like’ the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Five-Leaf-Eco-Awards/107915542649064

 

Church Greening News

October 2011 was the Five Leaf Eco-Awards’ biggest months yet with the presentation of four awards to three churches in two cities:

Canberra Baptist Church

Canberra Baptist Church’s Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate makes it the first Baptist Church in Australia to earn an award from the program. Congratulations! We are very excited about this additional ecumenical step for the program and hope to have many more Baptist churches winning awards soon.

Canberra Baptist Church is home to a very successful community garden, giving people in the surrounding flats the opportunity to grow sustainable food and also providing food for an outreach to the poor. It also has bike racks at the front of the church, uses Fairtrade tea and coffee, promotes green books, has held Bible studies on environmental themes and ran a thanksgiving project which raised $13000 from the congregation and add $7000 from refunds through our photo-voltaic solar panels to support the Banishanta Union Integrated Livelihood Transformation (BUILT) Project, Bangladesh in an area that has been impacted by climate change.

Kippax Uniting Church

Congratulations to Kippax Uniting Church for earning the Eco-Worship Award! Kippax is dedicated to including environmental and creation care themes in their worship. Not only do they participate in the Season of Creation each year, but they also regularly mention these themes in everyday services. In 2011 they also held a MasterChef Cupcake Competition to raise money for the RSPCA as part of their yearly Blessing of the Animals service, which is often spiced up by more than just cats and dogs – they have had goldfish in the baptismal font, a pair of lizards and even stick insects.

Warrandyte Uniting Church

                       

Warrandyte Uniting Church’s famous Peace Wall and native garden

This beautiful church and community has been awarded the Basic Certificate and Eco-Worship Award. This church has a unique approach where peace has become the theme that ties together everything they do. In addition to their peace wall mosaic made from tiles painter by over 1,000 people with their images of peace, Warrandyte have also made water “tanks” from old olive oil containers which trap the runoff from the roof for the gardens, run a monthly craft group which sells items to raise money for their peace mission and provides regular reading and reflection resources on the theme of Peace with the earth.

 

 

Focus: Australia’s Burning Issue

This month’s focus article by Chris McKay discusses one perspective on one of the most complex and controversial issues in this country – fire management. This issue is currently particularly potent in WA after recent fires in Margaret River, which were lit by the state Department of Environment and Conservation as part of the state’s burning program. The fire escaped and burned large areas of bushland and 40 houses. This tragedy continues to cause concern as it has triggered a food crisis for three local endangered black cockatoo species who were already suffering from a loss of habitat to logging. Left with nothing to eat, the birds have moved en mass into the city of Perth, starving and searching for food. This has become an environmental issue right on the doorstep of the people of Perth as the cockatoos work their way through any and all food sources, even eating exotic nuts that are poisonous to them like green almonds and macadamias. The next question is what they will do after Perth is stripped bare. The good news is that the people of Perth have responded with enthusiastic support for the protection of the birds and their remaining habitat, crashing the Conservation Council of WA’s website twice in the last fortnight with the number of people logging on to sign their petition. If you haven’t signed yet, visit http://ccwa.org.au/content/save-our-cockatoos

To see some pictures of starving baby cockatoos that were rescued in Perth visit http://fiveleaf-crownofthorns.blogspot.com/2012/01/starving-baby-endangered-cockatoos.html

You may also like to consider signing the following petition: http://ccwa.org.au/content/stop-dec’s-reckless-forest-fires

Also of interest is a recent study in Victoria which found that burning off does not protect homes. See http://www.theage.com.au/national/big-burns-offer-poor-bushfire-defence-academic-20120118-1q6o9.html I knew Dr Phillp Gibbons, author of this study, at ANU and I have a great deal of respect for his expertise and knowledge so I believe this study holds very high credibility. (In contrast to these results however, we will hear about some very successful programs in the Northern Territory in Chris’ article. This apparent conflict highlights one of the most important issues with fire management: it needs to be specifically tailored to the conditions of a local area. Many of our fire management issues arise from applying the same policies used somewhere else to a different area and by implementing blanket policies that do not take into account the mosaic of the natural environment and the vulnerability of particular ecosystems such as rainforests and wetlands which can easily be destroyed by inappropriate fire management systems)

Jessica

Chris McKay writes today about fire management today from the perspective of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge:

The last time I wrote for Salt and Light I promised to explore the relationship between Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and Western Science in Australia. There’s no better topic through which to explore this relationship than by looking at the ways Indigenous and non-Indigenous land managers and scientists come together to manage fire. What everyone agrees on is that fire is something that needs to be carefully managed. Attitudes about fire, however, are often very different.

Few people in Australia would need to be reminded of the importance of fire management with catastrophes as recent as 2009’s Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, 2003’s Canberra bushfires and even the ‘controlled burn’ that got out of control recently in Margaret River. These catastrophic events have unsurprisingly given this nation a deep seated fear of bushfires.

What these catastrophic incidents and this fear also reminds us of is that Australians are still coming to terms with the role fire plays in this country and the ways in which it can be effectively managed. The mindset seems very much to be that of a country engaged in a fight against an unpredictable and indiscriminate foe.

Australia’s First People have a far less dim view of fire. In fact, their pre-1788 way of life depended on it and burning remains an important part of land management for those groups who still have access to their land, albeit in a modified form. In virtually every part of Australia, Aboriginal burning was a common practice in the past.[i] Aboriginal people were actively setting their country alight, a practice seen as a dangerous threat by the European newcomers who were not accustomed to seeing fires of this sort. For the First People, burning was a clever strategy for controlling fire in a land that is simply prone to it. It was a strategy finetuned over thousands of years and essentially put people in control of the fire and not at its mercy.[ii]

As Dean Yibarbuk of the Gurgunni clan in Arnhem Land so neatly puts it, “Being the boss of fire was always the way, not fire being the boss of us”.[iii]

Aborigines’ use of fire was no coincidence. About 70% of Australia’s plants either need or tolerate fire.[iv] Fire was used as part of a highly strategic approach to managing what historian Bill Gammage refers to as ‘The Biggest Estate on Earth’, in his recent book of the same name. This is a reference to the fact that Aborigines pre-1788 were not hunter-gatherers in the sense that white Australians have been prone to think about hunter-gatherers. They were not aimless wanderers who gathered resources by chance, had little or no impact on the countryside and were generally at the mercy of nature. They exacted an enormous influence on the physical condition of the land and were highly active in controlling and managing the land on which they lived in order to sustain their own existence. [v]Managing the country as a massive estate in this way would have required a huge leap of the imagination.

European colonisation of Australia had a devastating impact on Australia’s First People and disturbed the close connections they had with their country, in many cases putting an end to these connections completely. Aboriginal burning regimes across Australia have been disturbed and disrupted as a result, not just because country was taken away from people, but also because it is a practice that was, and still is, seen as a threat to non-Aboriginal property and sensibilities.[vi]

Today’s reality is that Australia is a country that the First Australians’ share with a far greater number of newer arrivals from around the globe, many of whom have very different cultures and ways of living with the land. This has implications for how country is managed, particularly when it comes to the use or control of fire in the landscape.

For the Yanyuwa people who live in and around the township of Borroloola in NT, tourism has forced a change from their traditional burning practice. They say the presence of tourists has ‘closed up country’, which is reference to the fact that some areas of the country now cannot be burned due to the large numbers of tourists who would be in harm’s way if they did.

ANU Geographer Richard Baker makes a link between the disruption of the classical burning regime and the occurrence of larger destructive fires, saying there’s a likely cause and effect relationship.[vii]

Factors such as tourism and the mosaic of land tenures across Australia mean that new approaches are needed for fire management in this country. This need has brought about some shining examples of collaboration between Indigenous groups and Western scientists to better manage fire.

The ‘Desert Fire’ initiative of the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre was a collaborative project involving Aboriginal people of the Tanami Desert, researchers from a number of universities and government. It sought to address some of the key issues that arise for managing fire in Australia’s Tanami Desert and develop a collaborative fire-management strategy that accounts for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal users of the land.[viii] This work recognises that successful fire management strategies need to bring together the diverse views and knowledge about fire that exist in the community. The benefits of such an approach are great: having control over fire and an ability to protect pastoral land, conservation sites and sacred Aboriginal sites from destructive wildfires; reducing the costs of fighting unplanned and dangerous fires; maintaining and developing a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture; and sustaining ecological communities that rely on fire but are damaged by intense wildfires.[ix]

The West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project is another great example of an initiative that brings together Aboriginal fire knowledge and Western scientific knowledge and has mutual benefits for all involved. It is also a groundbreaking climate change initiative. Research has shown that strategic fire management in the savanna landscapes of Arnhem Land leads to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The traditional Aboriginal practice of burning country in the cooler part of dry season prevents uncontrollable wildfires in the late, hotter part of the dry season and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the region as a result.[x]

The project is a collaboration between the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of the land, Indigenous ranger groups, the Northern Territory Government, Darwin Liquefied Natural Gas, CSIRO and the Northern Land Council. Indigenous rangers use Aboriginal traditional fire management techniques combined with Western scientific knowledge to better control the extent and severity of wildfires in the area. This minimises the occurrence of destructive late season fires and reduces regional carbon emissions by about 100,000 tonnes per year as well as safeguarding unique ecological habitats and cultural values on the Arnhem Land plateau. This reduction in greenhouse gases is used as a carbon offset for the emissions generated by Darwin Liquefied Natural Gas, who are paying the Indigenous land managers about $1 million a year for this service for the 17-year life of the project.[xi]

Dean Yibarbuk, one of the Indigenous land managers, calls the West Arnhem fire initiative a “two toolboxes” approach. He says using both the Indigenous knowledge toolbox and the western science toolbox has brought wildfires back under control in Arnhem Land. The Indigenous land managers have been able to use helicopters and aircraft to help them put in fire breaks quickly over large areas and use satellite data on the location of fires. Scientists also help to calculate the emissions savings from the project.[xii]

The project is having some great success. In the first five years 707,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide was abated, far in excess of the 100,000 tonne per year target and over 100 Indigenous ranger jobs have been created. The project won a Banksia Award, Australia’s ‘environmental Oscars’, and the inaugural Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change. The success of this initiative has led to four more similar projects across the top end of Australia.[xiii]

These collaborations show that there is much promise for the development of new knowledge about how we can live together and care for this country and our environment properly. There is much to learn from the First Australians and if this knowledge is embraced it might help all Australians to understand their country and not be fearful of it. In the words of Bill Gammage, “If we are to survive, let alone feel at home, we must begin to understand our country. If we succeed, one day we might become Australian.”[xiv]

Monthly Action Tip

Something for Victorian churches to share with their congregations and those in their outreach programs: Concession Assist

Do you (or does someone you know) have a concession card and live in Moreland? If so, you could take advantage of the free Concession Assist program. It’ll help you save money and save energy – with a free home energy assessment and free installation of energy saving products such as draught-proofing, low energy lighting, energy saving powerboards, water-efficient showerheads and more.
Register now on the Concession Assist webpage or call MEFL on 9385 8585.

Resources

2012 Calendar Dates:

Clean Up Australia Day – Don’t forget to register your church to participate

March 4

See how churches have worked together in the community:

http://www.unitingearthweb.org.au/explore/maroubra-junction-uniting-church-clean-up-australia-day-clean-up-and-festival

http://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/

– March 31 – Earth Hour

– June 5th – World Environment Day. Green Economy: Does it include you?

– August 6-10 International Conference: Christian Faith and the Earth, Capetown South Africa

– September: Season of Creation and Sustainable September. Note there are 5 Sundays this year.

–  October – 17th – 23rd – National Water Week

–  November 6th – National Day of Prayer for Climate Change

– November 26th – International Buy Nothing Day

Inspirational Quotes

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. William Butler Yeats

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all. Voltaire

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet. Thomas Merton
Extra Reading

 

Rev. Sally Bingham’s Message to Austin’s Interfaith Community

http://txipl.org/content/rev-sally-binghams-message-austins-interfaith-community

 

What Would MLK Do? Christians and Climate Change

http://www.redletterchristians.org/what-would-mlk-do-christians-and-climate-change/

 

Church Conservation

Action Survey

 

As part of the Youth for Eco-Justice Program, I have to complete an eco-justice related project of my choice in the coming year. I will be launching a new program called ‘Churches for Conservation’, challenging and encouraging churches to take action for the conservation of endangered species. If your church has already taken action in this area can you please let me know? I am looking for some inspiring stories to encourage those considering getting involved in the new program.

Please email me

Events

Advertise your faith and environment events with us: email

ACT

Christians for an Ethical Society March Public Forum

As is our custom, we will open with a forum that specifically addresses Christian ethical considerations of the year’s theme. This then underlies the remaining forums.

Forum Topic: “Where lies Happiness? The Christian Understanding of Contentment and Community”. Details can be found at : March public forum

Our Speaker: The speaker for our first forum is to be Rev Professor James Haire, AM.  Many of you will have seen or met James at our forums at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, where he is Executive Director.  James is also Professor of Theology at Charles Sturt University; formerly Professor of Theology at Griffith University; former President of the Uniting Church in Australia; former President of the National Council of Churches in Australia; Peace Negotiator, Indonesia, 2001 – 2005; Member of the International Dialogue Group, Vatican – World Methodist Council, and Much Much More!For details click here: Speaker March Forum.

Forum Chair: We are delighted to welcome back Bishop George Browning, but this time as our Forum Chair.

Forum time and date: 7.30 pm, Thursday 8 March

Place: Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Blackall St, Barton

Publicity: It would be most helpful if you are able to print a poster (attached) and display it in your local church or community group hall.

 

Melbourne

Greening Moreland Forum

If you live in Moreland you probably know there’s lots of activity going on in the sustainability space.

Community groups and organisations, residents, businesses, and Council are doing amazing things. So how do we make sure we’re all working well together on our common goal?
This facilitated open space will get you up to speed about what others are doing and how we can work together to achieve big things. All groups that attend will get a chance to promote their activities so if you’re part of a Moreland group, please spread the word.

Already got ideas? You don’t need to wait for the forum to share. You can go online now, tell us what you’re up to and what your vision is. Sign in to ZCM Social, click on the Forum and add your thoughts to the Greening Moreland thread.

When: 25 February, 10am – 1pm (followed by free BBQ)
Where: Coburg Town Hall, 90 Bell St Coburg
Cost: Free!
Bookings required: book now online or call Asha on 9385 8520
More info: Visit the MEFL websiteour Facebook, or contact Asha via email or phone 9385 8520
This is a satellite event of the Sustainable Living Festival.

MEFL is also running a Home Renovators Workshop at SLF’s big weekend at Fed Square, Sat 18 Feb, 1pm. Come along if you’re thinking about getting your hammer out.

Volunteer for electricity use study

Would you like to play a part in an exciting new research project on electricity use in Victorian homes and go into the draw to win an iPad 2?

Sustainability Victoria and MEFL are undertaking the Victorian Residential Energy Metering Project (Vic REMP) to gather detailed information about how electricity is used in Victorian homes, looking at the whole house, lighting and major appliances.

If your household is keen to get involved you can register online today or
visit our website for more information. We’re looking to recruit households right across Melbourne so please pass this message on to any friends you think may be interested.

 

South Australia

14th-16th Mar, “ASSISI Formation – Animators   for Sustainability Program”

 

Event name: ASSISI Formation – Animators for Sustainability Program

Date/time: 14th-16th March, 2012
Location: Hotel Victor, South Australia
Note: The same program is also being held on 15th-18th   May, at Maryknoll, Blackmans Bay, Tasmania

Organisation: Catholic Earthcare Australia
Cost: $990 (incl. accom, w’shops, meals, support materials)

Description: A three-day intensive formation program for people   interested in forming sustainability teams in their school, organisation or   community. Themes: ecological theology, sustainability, building learning   communities in your own context.

Are you wondering …

  • What would it take to        animate the call to justice, peace and integrity of creation such that        we learn together how to live and work sustainably on our planet?
  • What is required for your        organisation to take the transformative journey to ecological        sustainability?
  • What wisdom exists in        Catholic Teaching that may help you and your organisation respond to the        call for ecological conversion and sustaining God’s Creation?
  • What would it take to        truly harness the energies of God’s love?

Catholic Earthcare Australia offers ASSISI as   a comprehensive and holistic sustainability initiative for organisations to   achieve sustainability. A three-day intensive is central to the formation   experience. Participants are required to do preparatory work and follow-up   work. During the course of the formation experience, participants are exposed   to contemporary ecological theology, scientific understandings of   sustainability and transformative social processes that can inspire and   support this critical work.

Would you like to join with others to seek,   discern and transform a new way of being that responds to the call for   ecological conversion through participation in our ASSISI Formation –   Animators for Sustainability program?

Then find out more at: www.catholicearthcare.org.au

 

Tasmania

15th-18th May, “ASSISI Formation – Animators   for Sustainability Program”

 

Event name: ASSISI Formation – Animators for Sustainability Program

Date/time: 15th-18th May, 2012
Location: Maryknoll, Blackmans Bay, Tasmania
Note: The same program is also being held on 14th-16th   March, at Hotel Victor, South Australia

Organisation: Catholic Earthcare Australia
Cost: $990 (incl. accom, w’shops, meals, support materials)

Description: A three-day intensive formation program for people   interested in forming sustainability teams in their school, organisation or   community. Themes: ecological theology, sustainability, building learning   communities in your own context.

Are you wondering …

  • What would it take to        animate the call to justice, peace and integrity of creation such that        we learn together how to live and work sustainably on our planet?
  • What is required for your        organisation to take the transformative journey to ecological        sustainability?
  • What wisdom exists in        Catholic Teaching that may help you and your organisation respond to the        call for ecological conversion and sustaining God’s Creation?
  • What would it take to        truly harness the energies of God’s love?

Catholic Earthcare Australia offers ASSISI as   a comprehensive and holistic sustainability initiative for organisations to   achieve sustainability. A three-day intensive is central to the formation   experience. Participants are required to do preparatory work and follow-up   work. During the course of the formation experience, participants are exposed   to contemporary ecological theology, scientific understandings of   sustainability and transformative social processes that can inspire and   support this critical work.

Would you like to join with others to seek,   discern and transform a new way of being that responds to the call for   ecological conversion through participation in our ASSISI Formation –   Animators for Sustainability program?

Then find out more at: www.catholicearthcare.org.au

 

Western Australia

Environment Matters: Why are WA’s rare and endangered cockatoos starving?

The Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) is holding Environment Matters: Why are WA’s rare and endangered cockatoos starving? The event includes a range of impressive guest speakers passionate about saving our cockatoos from extinction. It will be held on Wednesday 8 February from 6.15–8.00pm at Lotteries House, West Perth. Entry is free, donations welcome. RSVP for more info visit http://ccwa.org.au/events/environment-matters-why-are-wa%E2%80%99s-rare-and-endangered-cockatoos-starving.

 

“Preaching Peace” and Christian Responses to Climate Change – Community Forum

Mennonite theologian Michael Hardin – Executive Director of Preaching Peace and co-founder of Theology and Peace.

Presented by the Anglican EcoCare Commission and Murdoch University

Thursday 26th April

7pm-9pm

Worship Centre, Murdoch University.

Free event, please RSVP for catering purposes

 

 

Rainbow Covenant and Hymn

A RAINBOW COVENANT: FOR EARTH MISSION

Introduction

At the Australian Association for Mission Studies conference in September 2011, the following document entitled A Rainbow Covenant for Earth Mission was submitted for consideration by the participants in the conference. This charter document represents a significant development in mission within the Christian Church of Australia, moving beyond mission texts such a Matthew 28 and Luke 4 to embrace the commission of Christ to share the good news with all creation (Mark 16.15).

 

Norman Habel gave a powerpoint presentation at the beginning of the conference which explored the biblical bases for each of the seven foci of the covenant document. During the course of the conference the document was refined with input from various participants, including Ernst Conradie the keynote speaker at the conference. At the close of the conference the Rainbow Covenant for Earth Mission was endorsed as a draft document for future discussion and planning both for the AAMS and the NCCA.

 

We who are present at the AAMS Conference on Saturday Sept. 24, 2011, affirm A Rainbow Covenant: For Earth Mission and support its use for:

a) Launching the Earth Mission stream of the AAMS,

b) Consideration by the NCCA for the work of its Eco-mission Project Team,

c) Developing an eco-mission manual for use in the churches of Australia,

d) Circulating to appropriate interest groups for comment.

The promotion of a mission to Earth emerges at this point for the Christian church for several reasons. These include:

a) A growing awareness that the environmental crisis is no longer one which Christian churches can ignore,

b) Ecological insights have led us to re-read crucial parts of the Scripture and rethink traditional creation theology,

c) A mission to Earth is found already in the injunction to Adam to ‘serve and preserve’ God’s garden (Gen. 2.15) and persists through the Scriptures until the commission of Christ in Mark. 16.15,

d) We have become aware that Earth is not only our home and our habitat, but also a planet permeated with God’s presence, a planet we are called to preserve as sacred.

Churches and mission groups are invited to discuss this document and explore where and how it might serve as a vehicle for promoting our mission to Earth as an important dimension of the mission program of the church. The question being asked is how best to promote and utilise this document. Would a manual be useful for parishes and groups to study the biblical basis of the document and provide guidelines as to ways in which an Earth mission might be implemented? Would it be helpful to include a network of resources, examples of how people have been motivated to engage in Earth mission and practical ways in which homes, schools and parishes were able to implement this mission? Would your congregation endorse this mission?

Please send any comments and suggestions to Clive Ayre, who is a member of the NCCA Eco-mission Project Team.

 

A RAINBOW COVENANT: FOR EARTH MISSION

Following the lead of our Creator, who made a covenant with all Earth creatures and with Earth herself (Gen. 9.8-17), responding to the call of Christ to relate the good news to all creation (Mark 16.15), and moved by the urging of the Spirit (Rom. 8.26-27), we hereby affirm a rainbow covenant as the basis for what we call Earth mission.

Red – Radiant Presence

Given the good news that planet Earth is a sanctuary filled with the radiant presence of the Creator, the fire of God’s glory (Isa. 6.3), we affirm the call to celebrate Earth as sacred and not to desecrate this sanctuary with many forms of pollution.

Orange – Primal Origin

Given the good news that all living beings are Earth beings originating from the same orange clay (Gen. 2.5), and the Breath of our Creator, we affirm the call to activate our primal mission to nurture the land (Gen. 2.15, the soil from which we emerged, and to resist all practices that denigrate the land.

Yellow – Intrinsic Worth

Given the good news that all creation was created ‘very good’ by God, who thereby affirmed its intrinsic worth (Gen. 1.31), we affirm the call to respect the integrity of creation, to protect the rights of all life and all domains of this planet, to celebrate the abundance of God’s grace and to resist the many forms of consumerist greed that devalue our planet. Green – Pulsing Life

Given the good news that the Breath of God animates the face of Earth and all life on Earth (Ps. 104.30), we affirm the call to nurture Earth as a green planet by working to preserve all species of fauna and flora as well as their habitats amidst the many threats to biodiversity.

Blue – Deep Voice

Given the good news that all creation is groaning in hope, from the ocean depths to the ozone layer (Rom. 8.9-25), we affirm the call to empathize with the cries of Earth and the groaning of creation which is subjected to many forms of violence, and, as the prophets of old, proclaim publicly, on Earth’s behalf, the pains and hopes of her deep blue domains, both above and below.

Indigo – Encoded Wisdom

Given the good news that the ‘ways’ of wisdom are encoded by God in creation (Job 28.23-27), we affirm the call to understand the ways of wisdom in nature, and prepare for impending difficulties resulting from human disturbance in the balance of these ways through unwise and unjust uses of science and technology.

Violet – Cosmic Compassion

Given the good news that the crucified and risen Christ is now the cosmic Christ reconciling all creation (Col. 1.19-20) with God, we affirm the call to explore how the Gospel is good news for healing and transforming our planet (Mark 16.15) in order to establish an all-encompassing peace on Earth.

 

Rainbow Covenant Hymn

Tune: Morning Has Broken

Norman Habel, 2010

Red is the fire of God’s holy presence

Filling with life the planet we share;

Here is our vow to hold the Earth sacred,

Tend it with love and covenant care.

Orange the clay that makes us all mortal,

Filled with God’s breath since humans were born,

Given a mission: treat Earth as partner!

Now we affirm that calling once more.

Yellow, like gold, means all things are precious,

Each with a right to sing and be free;

This is our pledge to hold all that’s living,

Valued as part of Earth’s majesty.

Green pulses flow through veins of creation,

Yet humans clear great forests in seed;

This is our promise: keep all things growing,

We will reverse our violent greed.

Blue is the song felt deep in the ocean,

Blues are the groaning deep in the sand.

Now with our souls we promise to listen,

Publicly giving voice to the land.

Indigo sounds a signal for danger:

Refugees facing drought and despair;

Here we respond as climates are changing,

We will take steps, find ways to prepare.

Violet announces Christ in our cosmos,

Holding our Earth in all of its pain.

Christ now invites us: join in my mission!

Cov’nant with me to heal Earth again.

Source: Uniting Green News 8th January 2012

 

 


[i] Baker, R. (2003) Yanyuwa classical burning regimes, Indigenous science and cross-cultural communication. In Cary, G., Lindenmayer, D. and Dovers, S. (Eds.), Australia Burning: fire ecology, policy and management issues (pp. 198-204). Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing.

[ii] Gammage, B. (2011) The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

[iii] UNU World 2.0

[iv] Gammage (2011)

[v] ibid

[vi] ibid

[vii] Baker (2003)

[viii] Desert Knowledge CRC (2009) Desert Fire: fire and regional land management in the arid landscapes of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.desertknowledgecrc.com.au/resource/DKCRC-Report-37-Desert-Fire_fire-and-regional-land-management-in-the-arid-landscapes-of-Australia.pdf

[ix] Stafford Smith, M. and Cribb, J. (2009) Dry Times: blueprint for a red land. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing.

[x] Tropical Savannas CRC (2011) The Western Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project. Retrieved from http://savanna.cdu.edu.au/information/arnhem_fire_project.html

[xi] ibid

[xii] ibid

[xiii] NAILSMA (2011). Carbon Project: WALFA Project. Retrieved from http://www.nailsma.org.au/projects/indigenous_carbon_abatement.html

[xiv] Gammage (2011)

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